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August 12, 2010

Need stressed for sustainable coastal development


August 12, 2010


Speakers at a seminar organised by Shehri-CBE on Wednesday to launch a video documentary about the Karachi coast stressed the need for sustainable coastal development.

Amber Alibhai of Shehri said that the city coast has been becoming more like a dump as sewage was being dumped there. She opined that the coast was no longer a place of recreation except small spaces as land use was adversely affecting the beauty of the beaches. She said that untreated waste was particularly causing destruction of marine life.

Urban planner Farhan Anwar said that it would be unrealistic to expect from the CDGK to protect coastline spread over 75 kilometers as it was not under its control. He opined that the development was inevitable but it must be sustainable. Anwar regretted that the main feature of development was “inequity” as only powerful and rich people were benefiting from it and majority of the people have been excluded from the planning process.

He also called for developing an institutional mechanism for coastal development.

Khalid Mehmood, who funded the film, said that coastline had been sold during the Musharraf era but economic meltdown and judicial activism resulted in cancellation of various projects. He said that even in developing countries like Vietnam, it was impossible to construct industry without having the provision of treatment plant.

The documentary film, prepared by Ms Mahera Omar and scripted by Ms Shandana Minhas, mainly dealt with what it was called unplanned allotment of coastal land to foreign developers since 2006 and most of the projects were abandoned partly because of the citizens’ activism.

It talked about adverse impacts of land reclamation.

It contained views of experts, concerned citizens and stake-holders.

Urban planner Arif Hasan outlined four basic principles of planning, saying, it should not destroy the ecology; and land should be used on sociological and

environmental basis. But, regrettably, land was being treated as commodity and not an asset, he commented in the documentary film. Thirdly, he said, the projects should be conceived for the benefit of the majority of the population and lastly the planning should protect cultural assets and folk heritage. If these principles were made part of the planning, the shape of the development would be changed, he maintained.

Recalling the devastation caused by cyclone in the city in 1906, Arif Hasan believed that cyclone could hit the metropolis again. He opined that mangroves could prevent the cyclone to some extent. Hasan said that certain areas of the metropolis tended to suffer flooding because mangroves have been destroyed and two major nullahs (storm-water drains) have been encroached upon. Mahera Omer and Naila Ahmed also spoke on the occasion. —IA

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